The art is on fire

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First Posted: 6/2/2014

Though our area is certainly known for its long history with coal, there is another industry it was involved in that many tend to overlook – the production of T-rails for the locomotive industry throughout the country.

Evidence of this – as well as an awesome sight to see – can be found at the Scranton Iron Furnaces, the site of stone blast furnaces that were built between 1848 and 1857. Production on the site was started by Scranton, Grant & Company, and in 1865, said company had the largest iron production capacity in the U.S. It’s at this very site that the aptly named Arts on Fire Festival will take place this weekend.

“It’s a nice way to get people to come to a historic site and tell the history of Scranton,” said Bob Savakinus, one of the organizers of the event, “and all at the same time, they’re entertained. We want to combine arts, education, and some socialization.”

The Arts on Fire Festival started in 2009, a product of many local entities like the Anthracite Heritage Museum, Lackawanna County Historical Society, and Steamtown National Historic Site, among others, coming together.

The weekend kicks off with the Fire at the Furnace fundraiser with a nighttime iron pour that supports the iron furnace site and the Anthracite Heritage Museum.

Keystone Ironworks performs this pour, and many others throughout the weekend. It’s part of an eight-week ARTS Engage! Program run by Keystone College that allows students to work directly with skilled sculptors to learn the art of producing cast iron sculptures, from making and assembling a mold to preparing the furnace to the actual pour.

The three-day celebration highlights the local arts, heritage, industry, and community and is an event, Savakinus said, that has something for everyone. He pointed to Sunday as a family-centric day.

There will be art to see, vendors selling wares, and demonstrations dealing with blacksmithing, pottery, and glassmaking. Visitors can also take a historic trolley ride to and from the Electric City Trolley Station and Museum.

Arts on Fire Festival at the Scranton Iron Furnaces

(159 Cedar Ave., Scranton)

Fire at the Furnace Fundraiser: June 6, 8-11 p.m. $15, advance; $20 at the door.

June 7, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

All-day events: Glassblowing demonstrations by Aaron Farranti and Joe Gonda and RAKU ceramics/pottery by Jared Jaffe

Noon: Ribbon cutting ceremony and first tap of iron pour

1, 3, and 5 p.m.: Lackawanna River Corridor Association and the Lackawanna Valley Conservancy Enviro-scape demonstration

2-5 p.m.: Music by Friend of the Gypsy

June 8, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

All-day events: RAKU ceramics/pottery by Jared Jaffe

11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.: Ring of Fire demonstration by Steamtown National Historic Site

Noon-1 p.m.: Twirlers

1-2 p.m.: Mid Valley HS Steel Drum Band

1 and 3 p.m.: Lackawanna River Corridor Association and the Lackawanna Valley Conservancy Enviro-scape demonstration

2-4 p.m.: Arts Alive Singers